Joining our bird protection camps
Direct action for migratory bird protection - for Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) volunteers, this means packing your bags and heading off to the Mediterranean. We conduct ‘bird protection camps’ and other anti-poaching operations in the 'hotspots' of illegal bird hunting and trapping - searching for traps and nets, helping the authorities in their work against poaching and protecting as many migratory birds as possible!
Many of our actions are not without risk and require some knowledge of ornithology, environmental law and gathering evidence. Dealing with armed poachers and the authorities' enforcement officers also requires special skills. For these reasons, only nature and animal lovers who are already known to us and have a lot of practical experience can take part in many of our missions.
For beginners, it is a good idea to take part in our large migratory bird protection camp in northern Italy or in an operation in Malta. However, if you have the right qualifications, you can also take part in one of the other outreaches as a newcomer.
Physical fitness is essential. In Italy we work high in the mountains – during our field investigations CABS teams will routinely cover daily distances of 15 km with 600m difference in altitude. We walk a lot off the beaten track through difficult terrain. A head for heights, surefootedness and a good sense of direction are therefore obligatory. Strain on the knees is very high!
In Malta, the terrain is less demanding, but you need a good level of fitness for the long working days, which can start at 5am and may sometimes mean being out in the field monitoring until 10pm. Night work is also possible.
On Cyprus, much of our work is conducted during the middle of the night. Team members must carefully and quietly patrol known trapping areas to seek out and confirm active trapping sites with limesticks or nets. The work can be strenuous and is definitely not for the faint hearted.
Age of participants
Participants must be of legal age. There are no other restrictions - from students to pensioners, all ages are represented across our bird protection camps. However, our experience has shown that participants aged over 55 often struggle to meet the physical requirements for activities in Italy. In Cyprus and Malta, however, age is of less importance.
Previous / relevant experience
Working against poaching and bird trapping requires a high level of experience and tact. Only we can teach you how to find traps and how to deal with criminal poachers. But the best way to learn the basics of nature, animal and species conservation is to have already internalised them during many years of involvement with other associations and to have gained relevant experience in dealing with authorities, people and wild birds and other animals. A reference letter is therefore usually very helpful.
- Language: You must be able to speak English. For participation in other regions, knowledge of the respective national languages is of course an advantage. Many of our volunteers are German, Italian and British.
- Team work and tolerance: The ability to work in a team and tolerance are basic prerequisites. We are a represented by a diverse range of people - from animal rights activists, conservationists to eco-hunters. We do not need missionary fanatics!
- Being easygoing: accommodation is generally in shared rooms. Sometimes, volunteers have barely any sleep and have to skip meals.
- Bird identification: Basic knowledge of ornithology is important, as well as practical experience in nature conservation and animal welfare. For most of our missions, you must be able to identify all common European bird species.
- Driving licence: A driving licence (car) is obligatory. It is also important to have experience and confidence with left-hand driving for Malta and Cyprus.
- Cooperation with the police: We work closely and very successfully with the police. The police receive a list of all participants and their personal details.
- Travel sickness: Some of our operations involve a lot of driving through curvy roads. Being free from travel sickness is an important prerequisite, for most of our camps.
- Courage: Last but not least, you should have a great deal of courage! Even if serious incidents are very rare, poachers can react aggressively when they spot us. In the best case they just shout, however, there have been incidents involving physical assaults. Those who then want to try out their karate skills have no business being here!
- COVID Vaccination: From August 2021, full COVID vaccination protection is preferred for participation in our bird protection camps.
Reimbursement and expenses
The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) will cover or reimburse the following expenses:
- the cost of arrival and departure
- all costs for transport within the area of operation
- the cost of accommodation in simple bungalows with more beds or double rooms, some with small kitchens.
Travel to and from our continental operations in Italy, France and Spain can be done via train or own car, occasionally we also succeed in organising a ride between fellow volunteers. For long distance travel (such as travel from UK) or to island operations you can also arrive by plane. For the journey with private cars we refund the fuel costs and tolls on presentation of the appropriate receipts. Participants who are joining us for the first time are asked to organise their journey themselves and to advance the costs. A refund by Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) is made following participation.
All volunteers will pay for their own meals.
Volunteer application for 2023 / 2024
If you feel that you meet the above requirements and would like to participate in one of our bird protection camps, you can apply here. Please understand that due to the limited number of places for "newcomers" we can only take the most suitable applicants.